British film director Michael Winner dies aged 77
US-MICHAELWINNER-DEATH:British film director Michael Winner dies aged 77
LONDON (Reuters) - Flamboyant British film director Michael Winner, best known for the hit "Death Wish" series in the 1970s and 80s, died at his London home on Monday. He was 77.
In a statement released to the media, his wife Geraldine said: "A light has gone out in my life."
Winner, who reinvented himself in recent years as an outspoken restaurant critic in the Sunday Times, had been ill for some time, and revealed last summer that specialists had given him 18 months to live due to heart and liver problems.
He said in a later interview that he had considered going to the Dignitas assisted-dying clinic in Switzerland.
Winner's movie career spanned more than 40 years and included more than 30 feature films, including the successful Death Wish series starring Charles Bronson as a vigilante out to avenge family murders.
His big screen success was overshadowed by a divisive image in Britain as a bon viveur who did nothing to hide his wealth.
In a film career which spanned more than 50 years, he worked with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, including Marlon Brando, Robert Mitchum and Faye Dunaway.
He later reinvented himself as a restaurant critic, writing about food in his typically flamboyant style in his Winner's Dinners column for the Sunday Times.
Winner, whose appearance in adverts for motor insurance coined the catchphrase "Calm down dear, it's only a commercial", also founded and funded the Police Memorial Trust following the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in London in 1984.
More than 50 officers have been honored by the trust at sites across the country.
(Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato)